Getting your website high up on Google can be confusing, especially when you don't understand HTML or how search engines work. I am someone who specialises in web development but I still have to remind myself to follow some simple steps before building web pages that need to perform well on Google.
1. Determine the key phrases
The first thing we need to figure out is what people are actually typing in to Google. Why make assumptions when we can actually get this data from Google?
Google Adwords has a very useful tool called the Keyword Planner. This will give you stats and figures for daily / weekly searches per key phrase. For example, "Marketing Dublin", might have 300 searches per day. "Printing Dublin" might have 1000 searches per day.
You might even find that nobody is searching for what you are offering, or you might find that the competition in your field is too high to compete.
So this is my process:
- Determine the products: Speak to my client and try to gain a basic understanding of their business and the various products or services that they provide.
- Research relevant key phrases: Use the Keyword Planning Tool to find key phrases relating to the products and investigate the number of people searching and how much competition there is.
- Try to find a niche: Sometimes the competition for a key phrase is too strong. 'Dentists Dublin' is an example of a highly competitive key phrase and getting to the top of that list is going to take a lot of time and effort. An easier way to the top might be something like "Teeth Braces Dublin", or "Invisible Teeth Braces Dublin"
- Don't put all my eggs in one basket: I build as many pages as I can, each one targetted as a specific key phrase. This increases the chances of capturing a nice flow of traffic. Relying solely on just one key phrase and landing page is a bad idea.
2. Build pages and content around these phrases
So now you've got key phrases that aren't too competitive but that have a steady stream of searchers. It's time to build a page that might be shown to these people when they search on Google.
Try to think of every page on your website as it's own entity or Landing Page. A lot of web designers make the mistake that the entire website is what gets ranked on Google, when in fact its the individual page that Google really cares about. Google wants to ensure that the link that it provides to the searcher is relevant. The person who clicks a Google search result should be brought to a relevant web page and not have to make another click on the website to find what they want.
Now let's get a little technical and make sure each page has:
- Enough content: at least a couple of hundred words and a picture or two. If there is strong competition for the key phrase then you will need more content than your competitors.
- High quality text: Simple, well-written English that explains what you are offering. Most people are bad at writing so you might need to get someone else to do this. Google is smart enough to know when a sentence is confusing.
- Some imagery: You don't need to go crazy with images but one or two certainly helps. Make sure to use your image ALT Text tags!
- Relevant HTML Headings: Make sure H1 tags (html headings) have been used near the top of the page. Use H2, H3 etc. where needed. Your key phrase should be part of the H1 Tag.
- Keep SEO-relevant content above the fold: This simply means that your H1 heading, which explains your page, should be visible near the top of the page. The user should not have to scroll down to see it.
- Relevant HTML META Title: Make sure a META Title has been set in the code and that it matches your H1 tags and the content on the page. Your key phrase should be part of the META Title.
- Relevant URL: If possible, ensure that your page's url contains the key phrase, e.g.: http://www.mycompany.ie/fascia-roof-repair
- Avoid "keyword stuffing": Don't insert the key phrase over and over again in an attempt to trick Google. Google is smarter than this and you will be punished.
3. Make sure you have clear Call to Actions (CTAs)
This one isn't so much about SEO, however. What is the point of getting website visitors if the visitors don't know what they are doing there? Your intentions should be clear. "Contact Us", 'Fill in this Form" or "Buy this Product". Remind the visitor why they are there at all times and try your best to convert them into customers.
4. Make sure your technology is good
Don't let slow shared hosting, bad code or massive images ruin all of your hard work. Google wants pages to load fast and it assumes that everyone is on a mobile phone these days (Mobile First). Your website should load in under a few seconds, even for people in the middle of nowhere on weak 3G signals.
- Use quality cloud hosting that is fast all day long. Unlike shared hosting that slows down at different times of day.
- Make sure your page's file size is small. Use Google's Page Speed insights to scan every page on your website and make sure that they load fast.
- Pages should load in less than a few seconds. Anything longer and you run the risk of a visitor bouncing.
- Install SSL certificates. Google gives extra points to HTTPS protected websites (make sure that there's a padlock in your internet browser's address bar when you visit your website).